Finals Advice

Eugene Lee '18

“This is it, guys! It’s our final stretch!” remarked my teacher. At the time I was sitting in math class, checking the classroom clock every five minutes to see if the block was ending soon. This sense of restlessness becomes apparent for me towards the end of the year. As such, I’m often lost during the last few classes and find myself immersed in summer fantasies where I get to sleep in and don’t have homework.


Quite recently, in my attempt to procrastinate from the pile of assignments forming around me, I started re-organizing my files on my computer. I haven’t cleaned up my desktop in a while and as a result, the folders and documents were all in disarray as if a small explosion had been set off in my computer. I have one big folder named “Work” and in it is a collection of files labeled “Math”, “English”, “History”, “Science” and “German”. I usually drag my documents to the designated folders and they are “lost” for a prolonged amount of time. That was until I accidentally double clicked my English folder and a stream of freshman and sophomore english papers came flooding out. Truthfully, I was glad to see all these documents again. In a sense, they allowed me to re-experience what it was like in all these classes, especially towards the end of the year.


Freshman year was definitely one of the toughest years for me, partly because I was still new to CA. Prior to coming to the United States, I didn’t have “finals” or any end-of-year assignments. For the most part, every school day was the same in Australia. We didn’t have a whole week dedicated to testing nor did we have crunch weeks where at most six or seven assignments are due..  Because of how different CA’s academic structure was, I ended up being incredibly lost my freshman year, struggling to keep remain focused s on school. By the end of the year, I didn’t really have the motivation to do anything. Having said that, I was still stressed out by the idea of finals. These two-hour long tests are approximately 20% of the final grade! What happens if I don’t do well?


A word of advice. For one, don’t stress out. It may seem hard to keep your mind off grades especially towards the end of the year, but it’s important to remain calm during this time. I have seen one too many students calculating how low they can score on their exam for them to still retain a grade or to possibly raise their grade. To be honest, I’m guilty of calculating grades during finals week and now that I look back I regret ever doing so. Here’s the thing, by the time you go into finals week, you already have a sense of which grade you fall in. The final in this sense can only minimally impact your grade. So please don’t stress out!


One of the nice things about finals week is that school starts a little bit later than usual. There are no announcements or chapel in the morning and boarders don’t have room inspection. So, if you don’t have a morning final, you can sleep in! This brings me to another point: enjoy the little things. Each year, the CA parents make candy bags for each student during finals week and drop them in everyone’s mailboxes. In a broader sense, you’re done after this week! You’ll soon forget what problems were on your math or biology exam and be enjoying the summer.


In a way, thinking about summer and planning out what I was going to do after finals week provided me with some kind of incentive and I didn’t worry about final grades as much. Before my trigonometry final during Freshman year, Amy Kumpel attempted to humor me by telling jokes. One of the takeaways that I got from her was to watch a funny video before a final and to much surprise, it worked well to keep me focused on my exam instead of worrying about the endless negative possibilities that can happen from one test.


Enjoy snacking on candy or watch a funny cat video. Take your mind off of grades and just try your best. Remember, this will all be over soon.


Have a great summer!